Josh, Johnny and The BASW: While We’re Waiting…

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So, how ’bout the Tribe? Plenty more on them in a bit. But first…

Welcome to Josh Gordon Appeal Part Deux. Having spent almost all of Friday discussing the merits of inconclusive specimens and an NFL taking a pin to their very own public relations bubble, all parties will reportedly reconvene on Monday.  By now, you’ve likely read nearly every thought we have on the matter, but have you read this one from Grantland’s Andrew Sharp? In what may be the most eye-opening part of this whole fiasco, the fact that the NFL has a 15 nanogram threshold for marijuana—while the World Anti-doping Angency’s is 150 and Major League Baseball’s is 50—speaks volumes for the entire ‘misguided resources’ argument. Like Sharp says, regardless of how this ends, it all reflects worse on the NFL than it does on Josh Gordon. Unfortunately, it’s Cleveland fans who will have to deal with the collateral damage in the event the Pro Bowl receiver is thrown the book. “Only the NFL could act like it’s still the 1950s and expect the rest of us to just go along with it.”

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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you likely weren’t aware of my work for ESPNDallas on Friday night for the Tribe-Rangers tilt.

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Of the five story links in this shot of the front page, four of them were written by yours truly. We have some pre-game notes: Alex Rios and Neal Cotts hope to be back next season, Rangers call up reliever Phil Klein, Wash on Cespedes: West lost a huge weapon. We have the requisite “Rapid Reaction” (filed immediately after the final pitch): Indians 12, Rangers 2: Rapid Reaction. And finally, my game story, which runs alongside the AP gamer: Williams must prove poor play is the exception

Working for ESPNDallas officially makes me one stop shy on the tour of regionals, as I’ve done some work for ESPNLA, ESPN Chicago and ESPNNY. I can think of a few assignments easier than just dropping in cold on a team that one doesn’t follow religiously—seriously, how many active Texas Rangers can you name?—and writing up a few thousand words on said organization. For some reason, ESPN lets me do it anyway. The fact that they gave me the front page was mighty nice of them.

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This Outside the Lines video on Jim Kelly and his fight against cancer was terrific.

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The Best American Sportswriting, 2014 edition, was released late last week. If you missed it, you can check out the list here. It’s great to see some younger writers (Flinder Boyd, Eli Saslow, etc.) get the nod in addition to multiple electronic outlets like Deadspin, Grantland and SB Nation.

Some of my favorites of the batch: Chris Jones’ incredibly well-reported piece on the grueling life of being a Japanese pitcher, Flinder Boyd’s terrific story about a Rucker Park hopeful, and Jay Caspian Kang’s story on the waning career arc of Don King.

The book will be available in October of this year.

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A lot of links today, but that won’t stop us from breaking out this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting.

All Work and No Play for JJ Watt” by Robert Mays (Grantland): “Repeating [2012] was going to be next to impossible, but Watt came closer last year than most think. He was again a first-team All-Pro and could still lay claim to the title of best defensive player alive, but after three months without a win, blame becomes a virus. “When you’re 2-14,” Watt says, “you have moments of doubt.” That’s why Watt is here, on this Wednesday in mid-June, having just finished another workout at NRG Stadium. As he sits down at a table in a half-lit room used for press conferences, his gray sleeveless T-shirt is soaked through with sweat. Four drinks — two waters and two small protein shakes — sit in front of him. It’s the Texans’ day off.”

Summer basketball and youthful struggle…” by Lee Jenkins (Sports Illustrated): “Unlike many NBA superstars, who were prodigies by 16, George can recall what it’s like to be at square one. He wasn’t invited to join an AAU program until the summer before his senior year of high school, and even then, he was placed on the B team. Fresno State was the only major local college to offer him a scholarship, and in two years with the Bulldogs, he lost more games than he won. He went scoreless as a sophomore against San Jose State. Indiana gambled by drafting him 10th overall in 2010 and head coach Jim O’Brien planted him on the bench. When George predicted at a team dinner that he would be an All Star by his third season, one Pacer laughed.”

The Hargrave Four” by Chad Nielsen (SB Nation): “Nothing could stand in their way, no obstacle and certainly no other player. Coveted by coaches, anointed by the media, the Hargrave Four were destined for collegiate glory, professional cash, and all the trappings that fame would bring. Until something odd happened: nothing. None of it happened. Today, in 2014, football has forgotten the most talented defensive line in amateur history, even as the last man standing battles for an NFL roster spot.”

Party Like a Browns Star” by Mike Tanier (Sports on Earth): “Johnny Manziel stopped for a beer at a joint called Two Bucks in Middleburg Heights, Ohio last week. As per federal law, someone snapped some photos of him and shared them with the world. A few days later, I arrived at a hotel in Middleburg Heights to cover Browns training camp. The little airport hotel was staggering distance from an official Johnny Manziel Hotspot! It afforded me a unique opportunity. I cannot sip martinis in Sinatra’s Vegas haunts as they were in the Rat Pack glory days. I cannot roam the canals of Venice in the footsteps of Casanova, catching his conquests on the rebound. But I could hunker down on Manziel’s still-warm barstool and briefly experience life as the NFL’s most notorious young socialite and quarterback-about-town.”

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And finally: Common’s new album, “Nobody’s Smiling” came out late last month. Even if you don’t appreciate hip-hop, you can appreciate well-written album reviews. Happy Monday, folks.

  • RGB

    JJ Watt is a beast. If Clowney even remotely lives up to they hype, Houston’s d-line is going to be brutal.

  • mgbode

    Nice work on the Texas series’ articles. Well-done and you obviously did your homework as there was nothing that would have caught any Ranger fan off-guard that you were an out-of-town writer.

    My quick takes on each:

    Cespedes – Wash seems to agree that Oakland is just going all-in on winning this year at the possible expense of the future. I think he’s right and Yoenis is going to be a monster off the monster.

    Williams – When’s the last time Jerome was any good? He was never a good pitcher IMO. The Angels found that out the hard way and are likely happy that their AL West brethren keep giving him chances (he’s pitched for both Texas teams this year).

    Rios – Ranger fans I know hate Alex (and Choo actually). They really don’t like the team assembled right now. I think a bunch of that has to do with those back-to-back AL pennant winners, but they want to move on from this bunch (and it started before this garbage fire year).

    12-2 Indians win recap – had to feel pretty good to get to write the recap of that particular game to the opposing team :)

  • mgbode

    Hey Scott, heads-up that the list link for BASW is not working.

  • boomhauertjs

    ESPN Cleveland site has to be coming to follow their 2 favorite individuals, right?

  • mgbode

    ESPN LeBron and ESPN Johnny as stand-alone sites?

  • mgbode

    And, there is not a better situation for Clowney to be in than Houston with JJ Watt. Watt has the best personality imagineable for a team leader. He is incredibly focused and driven, yet somehow remains likeable. Watch his press conferences and it’s hard not to be a fan and see how he can motivate the rest of his teammates.

    Oh, and lest we forget, he interacts with fans. A 6yo sad that she’s too young to marry him gets to spend a day with him. Newly wed’s that have a Watt groomsmen cake have JJ himself show up at their house to deliver some wedding gifts to them. Fans hoping for autographs after a grueling practice end up with JJ running through them, picking up kids playfully and general merriment.

    Everybody should love JJ Watt. Guy is great (on and off the field).

  • RGB

    Of course.
    But, neither of which will actually reference Cleveland. ;)

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Jim Kelly is one of the most incredible sports figures to read about, listen to, or see. What an unbelievable person (and family). That OTL piece is not just very good, those grainy pictures of him holding his family from his hospital bed are incredibly moving. Hopefully he can recover fully and continue to be such a great source of inspiration to all.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Fixed! Thanks.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Thank you. And yeah, that reaction piece was fun to toss together. Had to make a few changes when they notched that second run, but so it goes.

  • mgbode

    Thanks for the quick fix. And, that’s the first I have seen that Mike Rice story. Man, he comes off like the father in Christmas Story, doesn’t he?

    I am not sure that it was the writer’s intent or not, but after reading through it, he is the exact type of coach that I never want my kids to get. Overbearing, callous, poor-sportsmanship, crude. That isn’t to say he was everything that he was made out to be from those Rutger’s practices and he genuinely seems to want the best for the players he coaches. But, his style of coaching is what I hope will become part of the past.

  • nj0

    Christmas come early: Andy Dalton contract = 6yrs/$115M

  • RGB

    As funny as that is, we don’t have much room to laugh.
    Giggle…

  • mgbode

    Dalton is a below average QB, which is still so much better than what we have had the past 15 years. But, he is now making elite $$. I hope it’s not a Kaep-style up-front and abandon type deal, but, regardless, it’s money that the Bengals will have to give to QB at least next year instead of elsewhere.

    All 2015 AFC North teams other than the Bengals just got a little bit better as a result.

    Kanick may now proceed with the Dalton GIFs.

  • a_priori

    “For some reason, ESPN lets me do it anyway. The fact that they gave me the front page was mighty nice of them.”

    They /LET/ you do it? I hope they paid you, Scott!

  • a_priori

    Also, the graphic header for these WWWs still says “&&&& the Heat!” haha

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Brian Windhorst Jr?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He paid them! ;-)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Enough Texas two-stepping this is Cleveland!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Semantics. :)

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Broke that out for old time’s sake.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    So Scott will be ditching us for NYC when Francisco Lindor leaves for the Yankees in 2022?

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    There’s already a site for John Pigskin. It’s called TMZ.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Is this Soviet Russia?

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    That should never stop being true

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    2022, isn’t a comet supposed to hit the Earth before then?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I MUST BREAK U!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Higher chance of that than me moving to NYC.